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|12 Successful study strategies for the adult learner
(From UET’s Career Counseling. For more Career Counseling information, go to: www.uedtrust.org/UETPrograms/CareerCounseling.)
Continuing your education as an adult learner looks quite different today. You can take notes in a notebook or by typing on your laptop or netbook. Most research is done on the Internet and you might not even be sitting in a classroom when you are “in class” – you may be taking your class through a distance learning opportunity. It’s likely your priorities have shifted as well: Now you’re juggling a family, a full-time job and your responsibilities.
And there’s that niggling fear we all have that we’re not as sharp or alert as we were when we were young. Can we still learn new skills and information?
Of course we can – everyone can – no matter what their age or time out of the classroom. But you may go about doing it differently than in the past.
Because it is different, a good first step is to consider what that means in practical terms for you as an adult learner. A career counselor will talk you through those details, according to Marion Wangugi, career development facilitator at Pickaway-Ross Career and Technology Center.
“We will feel the callers out for how much they’ve thought about that,” Wangugi said. “We’ll ask a few questions about their learning style and strategies.”
Strategies such as finding a good time of day to devote to your classwork: A time when you are alert and focused without distractions, preferably when your energy is at its peak.
“It could be that you need to go for a walk first to rejuvenate yourself,” Wangugi said.
Once you’ve found the time, find the right place. Make sure it’s not too relaxed so you can stay focused.
“You need to find that quiet space that you can claim as your own, Wangugi said. “Alert your family members that now it’s study time and they’ll need to operate independently of you.”
But only for so long! Study in blocks of time, but keep them manageable so you can stay focused. If you can, vary the subjects or class to stay fresh.
When you take notes in class, use an outline form and keep your notes brief, Wangugi advised. Refer to the class syllabus to make sure you’re catching the main points. You’ll probably develop your own system of shorthand and abbreviations.
When you are reviewing your notes or text, don’t go overboard with your highlighter: Just use it to mark the main phrase or keyword, not the entire paragraph.
“If you’re someone who uses a highlighter, go light with it,” Wangugi said, adding that it helps to highlight a phrase or keyword and then slow down to focus, giving your mind time to take in the additional detailed information.
One learning technique when you are reading information is to preview the pages by flipping through them and noticing subheads and how the information is organized. Then read the pages thoroughly and carefully. When you’re done, try to recall the main points and details. Finally, review the text again.
And don’t procrastinate! Re-read your classwork and notes while they are still fresh in your mind. Jump right into any projects that are assigned by planning how and when to complete the work.
Take advantage of all the study and research assistance available through your school. You may even want to take a tour of the campus or facility to learn where various offices and resource centers are located. The easiest one to find? Union Education Trust’s Career Counseling is just a phone call or e-mail away. Contact the counselors at (800) 980-6973 weekdays from 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.